Southern favorites of 2010
Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewer Gina Webb shares the best of the year’s Books pages.
"The Creation of Eve," Lynn Cullen (Putnam). Renaissance painter Sofonisba Anguissola stars in Cullen’s suspenseful, evocative tale of life, art and royal skulduggery in the Spanish court.
"Backseat Saints," Joshilyn Jackson (Grand Central Publishing). A character from Jackson’s first book reappears in this turbulent story of an abused wife who searches for her long-lost mother.
"This Is Just Exactly Like You," Drew Perry (Viking). Perry’s wryly funny debut chronicles a man’s inspired attempts to fix his marriage and raise an autistic child.
"My Name Is Mary Sutter," Robin Oliveira (Viking). In the days when women were forbidden to study medicine, an aspiring female surgeon acquires her training courtesy of the Civil War.
"The Eden Hunter," Skip Horack (Counterpoint). An escaped slave on the run in the wilds of Florida searches for freedom in a country still striving to define the term.
"Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter," Tom Franklin (William Morrow). A decades-old crime in Mississippi rekindles the precarious relationship between two old friends, one white and one black.
"A Curable Romantic," Joseph Skibell (Algonquin). Turn-of-the-century Vienna and war-torn Europe are the backdrops for a young Jewish doctor’s search for undying love.
"The Most They Ever Had," Rick Bragg (MacAdam/Cage). Bragg speaks for three generations of “lintheads” -- Southern cotton mill workers who gave their all to an industry that gave with one hand and took with the other.
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," Rebecca Skloot (Crown). Affecting account of one woman’s contribution to science explores issues of race, poverty and the ethics of medical research.
"The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration," Isabel Wilkerson (Random House). Told through the eyes of three who lived it, the story of the 6 million African-Americans who fled the Jim Crow South for uncertain futures in the North and West.
"On the Outskirts of Normal: Forging a Family Against the Grain," Debra Monroe (Southern Methodist University Press). National Book Award nominee Monroe’s thoughtful, candid account of raising an African-American child in a small Texas town.
"My Reading Life," Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese/Doubleday). In his most confessional offering to date, Conroy pays a moving tribute to a life of reading, libraries, bookstores and fellow book lovers.